If you have a food allergy then you’re already aware of the constant need to read food labels to ensure you’re choosing safe food. Even if you don’t have food allergies, you might prepare food for people with allergies and have questions about which types of foods (and flours) are allergen-friendly.
The flours that are best for people with allergies are free from all of the common food allergens, which would be wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame in flour. Some examples of allergy-friendly flours are corn flour, rice flour, and gluten-free all-purpose blends.
We’ll review 30 different flours that are best for people with allergies in this article, so you’ll have plenty of options!
What are the most common food allergies?
While it’s possible to be allergic to almost any food, certain foods are most common to cause allergic reactions in people. They used to be known as “the top eight” allergens, but the addition of sesame in 2023 makes the list the nine common food allergens.
The Food and Drug Administration requires food manufacturers to disclose if products contain any of the top nine common food allergens. Some labels specify if the products might contain traces of the allergens, such as through cross-contamination.
The top nine common food allergens that must be disclosed on food labels are:
- Crustacean shellfish
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
- Sesame (effective 1/1/23)
A note on wheat/gluten allergies & intolerances
You might have noticed that wheat is a common allergy but not gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, so it can be easy to mistake a wheat allergy for a gluten allergy.
True gluten allergies are rare, such as with Celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder that results in intestinal damage when gluten is consumed). You might find that you are sensitive or intolerant to gluten or wheat, but may not be truly allergic (the prevalence of Celiac disease is around 1.4% worldwide).
If you’re allergic to wheat, you might also be allergic to other cereal grains like rye and barley (the plants are closely related), but if not, you can eat rye and/or barley even though they contain gluten.
Which flours are best for people with allergies?
The answer to this question will depend on the type of allergies you have. For instance, if you’re allergic to wheat but don’t have a tree nut allergy, then almond flour or coconut flour could be good options for you (which aren’t on this list).
This list will include flours that are free of all of the common allergens. In flour, those allergens would be wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame.
Those with a * indicate that they are wheat-free, but some people with wheat allergies might still be allergic to them (around 20% of people with wheat allergies are also allergic to rye and barley).
- Amaranth flour
This flour is made from the amaranth plant, which is considered a “pseudocereal”. Pseudocereals produce starchy seeds that can be used to replace more common cereal grains like wheat.
- Apple flour
Made from dried and ground-up apples, apple flour is not only naturally gluten-free, but it’s a good source of fiber as well!
- Arrowroot flour (starch)
Arrowroot is a starch derived from many tropical plants and is popular among gluten-free and corn-free dieters to use as a thickener and flour.
- Banana flour
Banana flour isn’t high in sugar because it’s made from lower-sugar, higher-starch green bananas.
- Barley flour*
If you want a high-fiber, whole grain, and wheat-free flour, barley flour is a great choice. It contains gluten so it acts more similar to wheat flour. However, it’s not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
- Brown rice flour
Brown rice flour is a good allergen-free flour, but it doesn’t absorb liquid as well as some wheat flours. If you use brown rice flour in place of wheat flour in a recipe, you might need to reduce the amount of liquid.
- Buckwheat flour
Even though “wheat” is in the name, buckwheat flour doesn’t contain wheat (we know, it’s a bit confusing). Buckwheat is technically a fruit seed related to the rhubarb plant.
- Cassava flour
The cassava plant is a woody shrub and is popular for gluten-free products like cassava flour and tapioca flour/starch.
- Chickpea (garbanzo) flour
Chickpeas are naturally rich in protein and fiber, and chickpea flour is a great choice for gluten-free batter for fritters, pancakes, waffles, and more.
- Corn flour
Corn flour is one of the most popular gluten/wheat-free flour alternatives and is allergy-friendly.
- Cricket flour
Cricket flour (powder) is made from finely-ground crickets, which as weird as it might sound, is allergen-free!
- Dal flour
Made from lentils, dal flour is common in Indian cooking and is free of the most common allergens.
- Fava bean flour
This allergy-friendly flour is rich in protein and fiber, similar to other flours made from legumes. It’s one of the flours used in some all-purpose gluten-free blends.
- Flaxseed flour (meal)
Flaxseed meal works as an excellent binder and is popular among vegan and egg-free dieters as an egg substitute in baking!
- Fufu flour
Fufu flour is made from plantains (tropical fruit) and sometimes contains other ingredients like cassava and potato flours, which are all allergen-friendly and gluten-free.
- Gluten-free blend
A gluten-free all-purpose blend is the best choice for substituting wheat flour around a 1:1 ratio. It has a blend of different gluten/wheat-free flours as well as starches to help mimic the texture of wheat-based flours.
- Hemp flour
Hemp flour is made from hemp seeds that don’t contain the psychoactive component of cannabis (THC).
- Lupin flour
Lupin flour is made from lupin beans, a legume similar to peanuts, but is allergen-friendly.
- Millet flour
Millet flour is made from a type of seeded grass and is suitable if you have a wheat allergy.
- Mung bean
This starchy flour is made from mung beans and is commonly used in Asian dishes.
- Oat flour
Made from finely-ground oats, oat flour is a good wheat-free whole grain flour.
- Potato flour
This allergy-friendly flour is a popular ingredient in gluten-free snack foods like veggie crisps/straws.
- Rice flour (white rice)
Like brown rice flour, white rice flour is a good allergen-free flour.
- Rye flour*
Rye flour contains gluten but is wheat-free. It’s popular for making rye bread and is lower in gluten than wheat.
- Sorghum flour
Sorghum flour is another gluten-free cereal grain suitable for people with allergies.
- Sunflower seed flour
Just like sunflower seed butter is a popular alternative for those with peanut and/or tree nut allergies, sunflower seed flour is a good alternative to peanut flour and nut flours.
- Tapioca flour
Tapioca is derived from the cassava root and it has excellent binding properties.
- Teff flour
Teff is a wheat-free ancient grain that is also a good source of iron and fiber.
- Tigernut flour
This flour is made from grinding up tubers that grow on a plant called the yellow nutsedge. Not only is it wheat-free, but it’s very low in carbohydrates.
The main allergen in all-purpose flour is wheat. To avoid wheat, you might try a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend or another non-wheat-based flour.
You can definitely be allergic to a specific type of flour without being allergic to gluten. For example, if you’re only allergic to peanuts then you’d be allergic to peanut flour but could still have gluten-containing flour like wheat flour.
Even though coconut flour isn’t technically a tree nut, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes coconuts as a tree nut. However, there is a good chance that you could safely eat coconut flour if you have a nut allergy, but it just depends on your specific allergies.